Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (2024)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Liliaceae (Lily)
Life cycle:perennial
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; roadsides, yards, woodland edges
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:3 to 6 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
National distribution (click map to enlarge):

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (3) Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (4)

A raceme of a few to 40 nodding flowers on lateral stalks arising from the upper leaf axils and at the top of the stem. Flowers are about 4 inches across with 6 orange-red petal-like tepals strongly recurved backward, covered in many purplish brown spots and hairy near the throat. A long style and 6 long stamens flare out from the throat, the stamen tips (anthers) dark rusty brown and up to ¾ inch long.

Leaves and stem: Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (6) Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (7)

Leaves are smooth with distinct parallel veins, webby edges on the upper leaves, narrowly lance-like, 3 to 7 inches long and about ½ inch wide, numerous and alternate throughout becoming more oval and clasping at the top of the stem. In the axils of upper leaves are 1 to 3 small purplish black bulbets, that can emit roots while still on the plant. The main stem is unbranched, purple to nearly black, covered in fine cob-webby white hairs.


Tiger Lily flowers resemble those of the native Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense) but the leaves are distinctly different, and Tiger Lily has the unique bulbets in the leaf axils. An early historical garden introduction, it is not as aggressive as other gardening icons that are making their way into natural habitats, such as Orange Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva), though it is apparently more likely to naturalize in wetter than drier habitats, as it has in the eastern U.S. Persistent or not—time will tell—it is neither an aesthetic nor ecological replacement for native lilies.

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Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (9)
  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (10)
  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (11)
  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (12)
  • Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (13)

More photos

  • Tiger Lily plants
  • more flowers
  • budding plant

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Regional Park, St Paul. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in both garden and roadside settings in Hennepin and Anoka counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Starla - Crystal (Hennepin County)
on: 2011-03-29 15:19:32

Tiger Lillies are my favorite flower. We have about 3 plants in our backyard. Next-door neighbor has about 8, across the alley have about 20.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-03-30 08:02:36

Maybe they are pretty but there are native plants I find more beautiful, especially where it comes to contributing to the local eco-system. Tiger lily fails in that respect.

Posted by: Jon - Interstate Park - Taylors Falls
on: 2011-07-05 15:17:08

A number of them were growing well on the basalt cliff and pothole trails.

Posted by: Joy - waseca county
on: 2011-07-12 23:19:11

I have probably 100 of sister has maybe more...friends have the same...

Posted by: Colene - Mazeppa
on: 2011-07-22 07:27:56

Where can I acquire some of these tiger lilies???Thanks...

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2011-07-22 21:04:45

I wonder if people in general care at all about the disappearance of our natural landscape...

Posted by: grik - St. Paul
on: 2011-07-25 19:32:00

I think people care. I'm just not sure that it is such a sin to have a tiger lily in your garden. Certainly they don't seem as thuggish as many of the other terroristic plants you list as invasive.

Posted by: Diana - NE Mpls
on: 2011-08-06 21:38:25

The native Michigan Lily (or turk's cap lily) is a more tender and slender version of this. For gardeners to contribute to wildlife, now and in the future, we must be willing to forego many non-native beloved plants from our youth, before we knew better, and replace with species that are native to our area. If we all do this, we will help keep alive the native bees, native birds, native butterflies, and other native plants. What wonderful work! And how fun to discover all the native plants that we might not have even seen before. (Most plants travel by seed so if a person keeps a non-native species, they are making sure it grows in the wild areas too.)

Posted by: Pat - Pillager
on: 2011-11-22 14:52:41

I have these growing in my yard in a few places. Thanks for the info that they are non-natives. I am trying to get hold of the native types and will replace these interlopers.

Posted by: Nancy - Ottertail, Mn
on: 2012-05-14 16:40:46

These were growing naturally in my woods right at the North west side of Rush Lake. I planted some in my Iris garden believing they were 'the' native lily 'Turk's Cap'.

Posted by: Molly - Glyndon, MN, Clay County
on: 2012-06-03 23:05:29

Here in Northern MN right across from Fargo ND in Glyndon, MN in Clay County we have native Tiger lillies growing in our ditches in the countryside next to redtwig dogwoods and the cattails. They are just thick off highway 9 by stockwood sighting which is 2 miles east of Glyndon city limits. Hope this helps my clay county friends find some tiger lillies! They are gorgeous.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-06-04 06:36:27

Molly, I just want to note that the common name "tiger lily" might be applied to multiple species, as often happens with common names. What you see in your road ditch may actually be the native Lilium philadelphicum (better known in MN as wood lily) rather than non-native L. lancifolium (tiger lily).

Posted by: Nate - Hutchinson
on: 2013-08-07 00:17:01

There are quite a few of these growing by Otter Lake here in Hutchinson right along the road that runs behind my house.

Posted by: Linda - north and a little west of Detroit Lakes, MN
on: 2014-08-01 16:30:21

The Tiger lillies near Glyndon, MN would be the same ones we had near the farm I grew up on. They did not grow in the woods. They grew out in the open in the ditches along side the open farm land in the flat prairie like Red River valley.

Posted by: brandon - brainerd
on: 2015-03-19 09:44:56

I have never seen a wild lilly but I want to anyone know where I can find them in the brainerd/baxter area

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-03-19 15:01:25

Brandon, tiger lily is not a "wild" lily, but a garden variety plant that can escape into the wild. If you're just interested in seeing lilies in the wild, they are not common but you may find them in prairie remnants along roadsides. Or try the Northland Arboretum in the Baxter/Brainerd area.

Posted by: Debbe - Mountain Iron
on: 2015-04-26 09:43:27

My Dad planted a tiger lily garden in Parkville (northern MN) in the early 50's and it was still there in 2014. We never found any new plants outside of the rock bordered four foot diameter garden. I started my own tiger lily garden in his memory in 2003 in Mountain Iron, MN. It seeds itself and is low maintenance. It is gorgeous when in full bloom.Your pictures and description confirm that it is a tiger lily.

Posted by: darciep - greenfield
on: 2016-05-24 14:32:33

I have some of the original Tiger Lily plants from my Mom's house in Coleraine, MN. (Hello Debbe- Mountain Iron!) We had them in Coleraine 1950s-present. The are the ones with the little black-ish seed-type balls between the leaves & black/purple spots on the orange petals. I have taken them to every house I've had in MN & still pass them out to friends & new home owners. LOVE THEM!

Posted by: Barbara - Mosinee wisconsin
on: 2016-07-11 15:57:58

My husband found this lily growing all alone in the field next to our house. He asked me what it was and I recognized it as a lily but never one I have seen before. Very unusual. It appears to be a lilum lancifolium. Is it rare to be in Wisconsin?

Posted by: Wanda - Linwood Township near Wyoming, MN
on: 2017-07-10 12:12:52

growing in the ditches along County Rd. 22 west of Wyoming in Linwood Township.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-07-10 12:27:58

Wanda, orange daylily is common along roadsides. You might see tiger lily but orange daylily is much more widespread.

Posted by: Kiki - Walker
on: 2018-07-01 14:02:10

LOVE tiger lilies and called every nursery within 50 miles. No one had them. Happy to hear there are so many near Glyndon. My husband's father was born in Glyndon, and it would be ever so sweet to have 3 or 4 lilies from Glyndon in our garden. Thanks Molly!

Posted by: Becky - Wisconsin
on: 2018-08-01 20:24:39

More of a question. Just wondering what to do with those little black bulb looking things at the base of the leaves. Can you plant those and make more plants?

Posted by: Richard Fleming - Duluth
on: 2019-04-14 18:44:52

Just because a plant isn't native doesn't mean it's not beneficial for wildlife. Nor does it mean it's bad and should be eradicated. If you want to talk about invasive, consider "real estate" "development", corn, soybeans, canola, McMansions, et cetera. There certainly are terrible invasive plants, like garlic mustard. However, I doubt that tiger lilies are really a problem. They're probably far more beneficial to pollinators than most plants that could be growing in their location. I'll take them over the giant ragweed + garlic mustard + hemlock + Asian honeysuckle combo that runs utterly rampant in moist areas in my childhood state. Some research has found that certain hybrid plants can be more beneficial for pollinators than their species counterparts, at least in garden settings, by producing more nectar and/or pollen for square foot.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-04-14 18:59:07

Richard Fleming, whether tiger lily is all that beneficial to native insects is a matter of opinion. Generalist insects may visit it but it takes space that more specialist insects cannot utilize, so it more likely decreases biodiversity. You didn't cite any specific research on the hybrids you noted so whether the claim is true is TBD. BTW, giant ragweed is native to MN. It hosts a variety of native insects and the seeds are eaten by many small animals. Don't knock it.

Posted by: Denise Durland - Brainerd
on: 2019-08-02 13:51:01

I have a tiger Lilly I planted and it is now 6' 8" tall in bloom.

Posted by: Kathy & Doug Wood - Stearns county north of a Sartell in woods along the Missisd
on: 2020-02-13 02:17:59

We have several growing under pines and boxelders. The deer kept eating them off so I transplanted them into our yard.

Posted by: Troy Weigold - Near the northern edge of Solana State Forest
on: 2022-07-18 08:46:42

This year has been wet. There are a number of Tiger Lillies flowering in damp areas, part sun/shade. Wonderful seeing their colors.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-07-18 10:37:41

Troy, are you certain what you saw wasn't the native Michigan lily? It should be in that area in the kind of habitat you described.

Lilium lancifolium (Tiger Lily): Minnesota Wildflowers (2024)


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